Halloween or Hallowe’en is celebrated across the world on 31 October and the celebrations we have today can be traced back more than 2,000 years.
Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain – a festival which marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark cold winter, symbolising the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead.
The Celts believed that on the night of 31 October, ghosts of their dead would revisit the mortal world and large bonfires were lit in each village to ward off any evil spirits.
The Romans, who conquered much of the Celtic tribal lands in 43AD, embraced many of the Celtic festivals into their own celebrations. After the Romans moved out of Britain in the early 5th century, a new set of conquerors began to move in. In the decades that followed, Christian teaching and faith arrived. Among the many Christian Festivals introduced was ‘All Hallows’ Day’, also known as ‘All Saints Day’; a day to remember those who had died for their beliefs.
Originally celebrated on 13 May, sometime in the 8th century the date of the All Hallows’ feast was moved to 1 November. The night or evening of Samhain became known as All-hallows-even then Hallow Eve, still later Hallowe’en and then Halloween.
Throughout Britain, Halloween has traditionally been celebrated by children’s games such as bobbing for apples, telling ghost stories, trick or treat and pumpkin carving, the latter featuring faces which are usually lit inside with a candle and were intended to ward off any evil spirits.
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